Minnesota health officials on the lookout for rare nervous system disorder

Rare Polio-Like Illness Strikes 6 Minnesota Children

Not much is known about AFM, which mainly affects children, and it doesn't have a cure. AFM cases have been reported from across the state, including the Twin Cities, central Minnesota, and northeastern Minnesota.

Acute flaccid myelitis affects the nervous system and can lead to the weakening of muscles, health official said. Viruses in the enterovirus genus - a group that includes the common cold and the polio virus - are most closely associated with AFM, though past cases have also been linked to West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, Saint Louis encephalitis, and adenoviruses. Because the virus was present in many early confirmed cases of AFM, the CDC believes it to be a primary cause of the condition.

This is an usually high number of patients, as the state has "typically seen less than one case a year" since the national uptick started in 2014, the release states.

"It is very rare and it is certainly something we're taking very seriously", Kris Ehresmann, of the Minnesota Health Department's infectious disease section, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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A GoFundMe page has been set up to help one of the patients, 7-year-old Quinton Hill.

"There is no specific treatment for AFM, but a doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses (neurologist) may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis", the CDC said. His parents, Elaine and Michael Young, said that he developed a fever in July and afterwards started to lose mobility in his right arm. While AFM doesn't have a cure, the symptoms can be treated and in most cases death can be avoided. However, he continues to be in therapy and faces possible surgery in the future. "He's kind of like, one day at a time, whereas we're anxious about the whole rest of his life", Orville's father, Michael, said.

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